March 30, 2018

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities to honor former council members at gala

Giving Hope - Changing Lives annual gala logo

St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in New Albany will hold its annual Giving Hope – Changing Lives gala at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky., at 5:30 p.m. on April 19.

The gala will benefit and celebrate the efforts of St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities to help those in need in southern Indiana.

It will also provide an opportunity for two former St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities Advisory Council members to receive the Spirit of Hope Award.

Carl Wolford, 91, first became involved with the organization in 1989 when it was the St. Elizabeth Maternity Home. That year, he and his wife Mary helped with the organization’s first major fundraiser.

“The goal was $50,000,” he says. “At the end, we ended up with about $62,000.”

Wolford eventually went on to serve on the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities Advisory Council for nine years, including the last few years as chairman. When his council involvement ended, he was 87.

Wolford has seen a lot of change in the organization over the years. He started serving on the council around the time that the maternity home merged with what was then Catholic Charities of South Central Indiana in 2004.

“It’s been gratifying to see the growth and see what we’re doing,” says Wolford, who, with his wife, is a member of Holy Family Parish in New Albany. “The growth is impressive—the beginning of it with the ministry of crisis pregnancy [housing], to what it is today, eight ministries.”

Wolford is also impressed with the leadership that accompanied the growth that occurred during his time on the council.

“Our executive director and staff are more professional,” he says. “We have a good advisory council, and we have an army of volunteers in diverse specialties that do a tremendous job in seeing that we have the means to really help a lot of these people in the community. That impresses me more than anything—the dedication.”

While most of his service has been on the council or in helping with the organization’s fundraisers—an activity he’s continued to participate in since 1989—Wolford recalls time spent with clients at St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities’ annual holiday dinner for staff, council members and those they serve.

“That’s always a very nice experience,” he says. “These people are very appreciative of the help they get from St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities. To sit down with them and have a meal with them and be aware of their needs—it’s pretty gratifying to know that we’re helping them.”

Being named a recipient of this year’s Spirit of Hope Award was something Wolford says he “certainly didn’t expect.

“I look back and see the reason for [the organization’s] success, and I see its directorship, its professional staff, and of course its council and its army of dedicated volunteers. I can’t emphasize that enough. They’re available to step in and do what has to be done in making these services available to the people who need them.

“I feel like the Spirit of Hope Award that I’m receiving goes to everybody that I just mentioned, everyone that’s connected with St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities—its staff, volunteers, and last but not least its donors,” he said. “I like to believe that the Spirit of Hope Award goes to all of these people who try to support St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in making life easier for the people who need these services.”

Phillip McCauley, this year’s other Spirit of Hope Award honoree, also feels humbled to receive the award.

“In total truth, I think there’s 100 other people out there more deserving,” he says.

McCauley, a certified public accountant (CPA), was asked by his friend and former St. Elizabeth Maternity Home executive director Keith Stormes to join the council in 2001.

“What I liked about them is that they were in-depth, giving help to people in situations that really changed lives, and especially the children to be born in that situation,” he says.

Three years later, the maternity home and Catholic Charities merged.

“At that point and time, their services expanded,” says McCauley, 74. “The things that happened as a result that really made it rewarding was the amount of doing good accompanied with the resources available. I was just constantly amazed at how much got done with so little.

“I’ve been around a lot of charities. … Some you donate a dollar to, and about 25 cents gets into the mission. [At St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities] it multiplies the other way. You get several times the benefit of a dollar. Ninety-five percent goes directly in the mission, but the effect is much greater than that with the volunteers. As a CPA, I was greatly impressed by that.”

McCauley has also been impressed by how St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities “has evolved with the changing times in terms of their services. … They put in transitional housing for after the birth of a child so they don’t just go out on the street, then added affordable supportive housing … . So their services are relevant to the world today.”

McCauley and his wife Sandy have four children, nine grandchildren and are members of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Jeffersonville. While he is Catholic and volunteered to serve a Catholic charitable institution, he notes that he has seen the council and the organization “become much more ecumenical, and I like that. We have people not Catholic on the board. We serve anyone in need.”

He also likes the fact that, by serving St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities, “you receive more than you give.” McCauley says he grew personally from “seeing and working with people of competence, empathy and energy. It was personal growth that I didn’t expect at all.

“It’s quite an honor—to say the least— to have an organization like that say you contributed.”

(St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities of New Albany’s annual Giving Hope–Changing Lives fundraiser gala will be held at the Galt House, 140 N. Fourth St., in Louisville, Ky., on April 19. A social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., and dinner begins at 7 p.m. The event includes a live and silent auction. While the event is free, donations will be accepted during the evening. RSVP by April 9 by calling 812-949-7305 or e-mailing

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